There are many different methods that have successfully helped people to quit smoking, including:
- Quitting smoking cold turkey.
- Systematically decreasing the number of cigarettes you smoke.
- Reducing your intake of nicotine gradually over time.
- Using nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
- Utilizing nicotine support groups.
- Trying hypnosis, acupuncture, or counseling using cognitive behavioral techniques.
You may be successful with the first method you try. More likely, you’ll have to try a number of different methods or a combination of treatments to find the ones that work best for you.
Medications to help you stop smoking
Smoking cessation medications can ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, and are most effective when used as part of a comprehensive stop smoking program monitored by your physician. Talk to your doctor about your options and whether an anti-smoking medication is right for you. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved options are:
Nicotine replacement therapy. Nicotine replacement therapy involves “replacing” cigarettes with other nicotine substitutes, such as nicotine gum or a nicotine patch. It works by delivering small and steady doses of nicotine into the body to relieve some of the withdrawal symptoms without the tars and poisonous gases found in cigarettes. This type of treatment helps smokers focus on breaking their psychological addiction and makes it easier to concentrate on learning new behaviors and coping skills.
Non-nicotine medication. These medications help you stop smoking by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the use of nicotine. Medications such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix) are intended for short-term use only.
Alternative therapies to help you stop smoking
There are several things you can do to stop smoking that don’t involve nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications: Ask your doctor for a referral or see Resources and References below for help finding qualified professionals in each area.
- Hypnosis – A popular option that has produced good results. Forget anything you may have seen from stage hypnotists, hypnosis works by getting you into a deeply relaxed state where you are open to suggestions that strengthen your resolve to quit smoking and increase your negative feelings toward cigarettes.
- Acupuncture – One of the oldest known medical techniques, acupuncture is believed to work by triggering the release of endorphins (natural pain relievers) that allow the body to relax. As a smoking cessation aid, acupuncture can be helpful in managing smoking withdrawal symptoms.
- Behavioral Therapy – Nicotine addiction is related to the habitual behaviors (the “rituals”) involved in smoking. Behavior therapy focuses on learning new coping skills and breaking those habits.
- Motivational Therapies – Self-help books and websites can provide a number of ways to motivate yourself to quit smoking. One well known example is calculating the monetary savings. Some people have been able to find the motivation to quit just by calculating how much money they will save. It may be enough to pay for a summer vacation.
Smokeless or spit tobacco is NOT a healthy alternative to smoking
Smokeless tobacco, otherwise known as spit tobacco, is not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. It contains the same addictive chemical, nicotine, contained in cigarettes. In fact, the amount of nicotine absorbed from smokeless tobacco can be 3 to 4 times the amount delivered by a cigarette.